Motherhood wasn't suppose to be like this. Who would have thought I would have to fight for my right to be your parent? I carried you for 9 months. I gave birth to you. I have a scar on my belly from the incision where you were pulled out of my body. I was there when you breathed your first breath. I held you in my arms for the first time, crying as I listened to you cry. I was already so proud to be your mom, and I was so excited to start this new chapter of my life with you! Little did I know, I would be fighting for the right to be your parent.
This is something different than my other stories you probably have seen. This is actually based on real-life stories. Well, more like my life story.
For years I knew I wanted children. For years I was a free spirit living in the city of New York. Now, 34 and with three children I can't tell you how wild this ride has been. My husband and I met in 2014 and our lives we're crazy but together filled with adventure, joy, and love. Knowing how we both felt we moved in, sealed the deal, and started our family. We moved to the south Officially in 2017. Today is September 27, 2020, and living in Atlanta has definitely changed us. Now the question is how?
Growing up in the late 80's early 90's was one of the best past time. Family was something to be proud of. Grandma's and Grandpa's held the family together. If there was ever a dispute, we all just came together and talked it out. Holidays were spent together with your family. We all got together and put our differences away. Food has always been a deal breaker in my family. Everyone played their role on a special holiday, or even an occasion. The past time dish that was forgotten was fried corn, every Thanksgiving. My grandma would host the occasion and someone would have to be at her house either spending the night, or early to start cooking the food. Whoever would cook, did not have the responsibilities of cleaning the dishes up afterwards. That was the worst part of Thanksgiving, was the cleaning up. Fried corn always got cooked with our meal. I honestly don't know if it was something my grandma just chose, or if it actually was passed down through generations. I can remember the way it smelt and the way it always hit the spot when I would put it on some of my mash potatoes. How I can hear the people in the back ground talking about either the football game that might have been on, or the arguing over something that might have been started over a debate. How my grandma's house was so little, but could fit so many people in it. How every time we would say grace before we ate dinner. That corn was never forgotten. My grandma had to make sure we had enough of the corn to last a year, it sure felt like. She would get her big skillet out, some butter, some salt and pepper, and melt them together. She would then pour the corn in the skillet and fry it up. It was so delicious and tasted so good. For people who don't like corn or vegetables, would be amazed and think differently.
I wasn't planning on this. Really any of this. But let's just say 2020 has been a pit of despair that truly keeps getting worse with a dimming light at the end of an excruciatingly long tunnel. So here I am caught in a cross-fire of what in the world am I really meant to be: career-focused mom or a permanently at home mom.
So, I’m April; that cutie above in the orange with no time for your photo-op, sir. I have trees to climb and rocks to collect. It may surprise many, and in spite of my innate curious and free spirit, I am a self-proclaimed-practicing introvert; having been for a tad over 39 years now. Yes, I can see how there might be some confusion at first glance, with my bright and untamed red hair, multiple tattoos and somewhat askew world view, but alas it is true. Finally though, I have honed my craft and settled into my various roles in this life the universe has chosen for me. I am and becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin, allowing myself to decide who I am and the manner in which I choose to express it. I am the preverbial “old dog” that can’t learn new tricks; or rather won’t unless I feel so inclined, thank you very much. But this? This is just weird. I am middle-aged suddenly; the very same age my parents were when I really acknowledged their ages; not their birthdays, but their actual numeric ages. They had remained this age in my mind, up until recently actually. They seemed so old when I was a kid; so square; so boring; so predictable; so safe. You see, in the year 1981, I was born to a couple of high school sweethearts who seemed to trade their youth for a life of servitude for their faith by way of the Southern Baptist Church. Yes friends it’s true, I am a member of a very elite group: The 1980’s PK (Preacher’s Kid).
How many times do you ignore someone you care about.
I will never forget that day in June my husband came home and told me his friend is coming to our house. My husband wanted to make sure the boat we had did not have any leaks. The way to do it was to put the boat in the water at Big Lake Alaska When his friend came we all headed to Big Lake. It was windy and warm that day. When we arrived at Big Lake they put the boat in the water. I waited onshore for them to come back, I was watching my husband. He was close to the shore checking the motor on the boat. I thought to myself we did not have to come here. Why make the ten minute trip and waste gas in the car! I knew the boat was in great condition and the motor was too. But better to be safe than sorry! My husband was going down the river with the boat and he wanted it in tip-top condition. They were playing around on the lake and having a good time,
Edit: For some reason when writing directly into Vocal, it won’t let me type a lower-case ñ. So I apologize for that, but there is comedic value in it. I just figured out how to solve the problem, but I’m going to leave it in anyway.
For some reason when I try to type in a lowercase Ñ the page goes backwards. That story will have to wait I guess. What to write about huh?
Meynardo and Lourdes Mendoza were the epitome of the American Dream. Immigrating (legally) from the Philippines during the Lyndon B Johnson era to America with nothing in their pocket except their medical degrees. Heck, they didn't even know each other yet when they began their residencies at that small hospital in Queens, NY. They were terribly homesick for their families, friends and culture but they knew that their success meant that their poor families back home would survive. Eventually Meynardo Mendoza would meet Lourdes Arquiza during their shifts at the hospital. They quickly fell in love and got married. Lulu (Lourdes nickname) soon became pregnant. Mey (Meynardo's nickname) was overjoyed with Lulu with the thought of the birth of their first son in America. What would the name the boy? They didn't want their first born to feel out of place at school with a typical Filipino first name like Carlos or Mario. They wanted a typical American name. One day while Mey and Lulu were at a greeting card store, they saw a rack with minitature license plates displaying childrens names on them. Presumably to be put on the back of a new bicycle. Thats when they saw it! "Melvin". Mey was a huge fan of 40's and 50's music as well the movies from the same period. Melvin was the first name of show business trifecta Mel Torme who acted, sang and composed. "Melvin Mendoza, what a great name"! they both agreed. Mind you, this is New York in the 60's. Melvin was far from being typical especially later on in little Melvin Mendoza life. Mey and Lulu started acheiving success in their medical careers and decided it was time to leave their little one bedroom basement apartment in Jamaica, Queens and head to the country life of Long Island (well, it was kinda the country in the early 70's). They bought a new construction 4 bedroom 2 1/2 bath home in Suffolk County with plans to move their own parents from the Philippines in with them. They purchased the home for $30,000. It was a normal tradition for the grandparents to move in to help take care of the grand children while the parents are working. As Melvin began nursery school (pre-school) he quickly learned that his name definitlely did not blend in. The neigborhood that his family moved to was mostly of Italian and Jewish families. "Hi, my name is Melvin" was usually followed by snickering and laughter. "What? Your name is Smellvin"? many of the kids would joke. The next question was always "Are you Chinese or Japanese"? Unfortunatley, most kids at that time had never heard of another country named Philippines. Melvin had a hard time making friends back then. Who wants to play with an Oriental kid with a werid name. Then it happened. An unassuming extremely thin boy with thick glasses named Abe said "I'll play with you" Melvin and Abe found an empty table full of Lincoln Logs to build an imaginary fort. Little did they know that this friendship would eventually span over 50 years. Later that evening, Melvin walked into the kitchen. Lulu and Lola (grandmother in Filipino) were placing large amounts of beef peices into a large pan to be marinated over night for Shish Kabob for the weekend barbecue. All the relatives that immigrated after Mey and Lulu were roadtripping from Queens to Long Island for one of many Mendoza back yard get togethers. Melvin was excited to tell about his new best friend Abe. Before he could get the word out, Melvin's mother said, "All your Tita's (aunts), Tito's (uncles) and cousins are coming in this weekend for the barbecue to celebrate that your going to have a baby brother and he is going to have an American name just like you! His name will be Maynard!